WASHINGTON — We oohed and ahhed as two little fuzzballs hatched in front of live webcams in March.
Now, it’s almost time to say goodbye to the two young bald eagles named Freedom and Liberty at the National Arboretum.
The eagles are now about 10 weeks old, and will soon be ready to fly away from the nest where they were born.
“They could potentially leave the nest anywhere between 11 and 13 weeks of age. It really depends on the eaglets,” said Al Cecere with the American Eagle Foundation.
The nonprofit group partnered with the National Arboretum to place the two HD video cameras near the nest.
The webcams have been very popular, with well over 40 million views so far.
Cecere says the eaglets are actively getting ready for their departure.
“What they’re doing now in the nest is they’re starting to branch, which means they’re actually leaving the physical nest and walking up on to some tree limbs,” he said.
“And then they’re flapping their wings a lot. They exercise their wings to build up their wing muscles and kind of get the hang of lifting off the ground, but they’re not quite ready to take the jump yet.”
Cecere says if webcam viewers see the eaglets “go out on a limb,” they shouldn’t worry because it’s normal and natural.
Once the birds leave the nest, there’s a chance that they’ll come back a few times before they leave for good.
Freedom and Liberty are eating well, thanks to the hard work of their parents, named The First Lady and Mr. President.
“I was told by a biologist that so far, the parents have brought about 14 different species of fish up to the nest from the Anacostia River,” Cecere said.
The young birds also recently feasted on two groundhogs.
If you haven’t checked out the eagle cam in a while, you might be surprised by the young birds’ size and color.
The eaglets are almost completely brown, and won’t develop the familiar white head and tail for a while.
“They have a brown beak, they have brown eyes and they have yellow feet. When they’re about 4 years old, they’re going to start transforming,” Cecere said.
“Then their eyes will turn yellow, and their beak will turn yellow as well. That’s a process that takes place between the third and fifth year. It’s a gradual process.”
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